Spammers unDDress Issue of Social Media Resources

August 27, 2010

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Corporate America has come a long way with social media. Companies do a lot more listening and engaging now, thanks to #motrinmoms, Dave Carroll's guitar and a number of other case studies. And today's consumer has reciprocated and is not so quick to pile on a brand at the first sign of a negative tweet or Facebook post – see Dooce and Maytag.

Yes, companies have come a long way in embracing social media…but we've still got a ways to go. Case in point, the scantily clad spam that showed up on Dunkin Donuts Facebook page earlier this week. I skipped the double D joke here because the good ones have all been taken by bloggers and tweeters J. But if you haven't heard the story yet, spammers posted some NSFW photos of scantily clad women on DD's Facebook page earlier this week and they remained up for 12 hours before being removed. When they did remove the photos, Dunkin Donuts posted the apology below.

Consumers were not happy about the spam pics or what many called a “canned” apology and made it known on the brand's Facebook page and on Twitter. Is this a fiasco? No. Maybe two years ago, but not today. Especially not for a brand that does such a good job engaging the community in the social space. Still, the online community dictates whether or not something like this is an issue. And for a brand that doesn't have as strong a social presence as DD, the backlash could have been worse.

When a case study like this comes up, the most important question, IMO, is what can companies learn from the example? And how do they need to change to keep it from happening to them?

Monitoring is the first thing that comes to mind. Why wasn't DD monitoring its Facebook page more closely? Well, I don't know the folks that monitor DD's social media, but I'm hesitant to pass judgment too quickly for one reason – resources.

How many companies do you know that have an employee(s) whose sole job is to monitor Facebook, or even social media in general? The more common corporate scenario I've seen is someone who already has 50-plus hours of work a week gets asked to monitor the company Facebook page. Or the company hands it off to an intern.

When I did social media training at my previous job, I almost always got this response:  “I see the value in social media, but I'm already too busy and no one's taking anything off my plate.” Social media, Facebook especially, is the new online front door to your brand. Often times, it's where initial perception is formed along with your website and search. But most companies still don't prioritize it that way. The website, search, and a multitude of other paid and earned media efforts get more attention, hours and dollars than the brand's social media presence.

Would you hand off management of your website to someone who was already doing another full-time job?  How about an intern? No offense to interns, but I know when I was one I didn't understand strategy well enough to be managing one of the most important consumer touchpoints a company has. Not to mention, when you hire an intern to manage social media, many times they leave after a few months and you have to train someone new all over again, the online community has to adjust to a new voice, etc. All these things impact your brand. And more important to your leadership, they cost money.

Different prioritization of tactics will make sense for different companies. And social media won't always be at the top of that list. But one thing is for sure – what happened to Dunkin Donuts could have happened to a lot of other brands. And it will continue to be a risk for organizations that don't devote the necessary resources to managing their social media presence.

  • So what do you think the “necessary resources” are?
  • Does your company/clients devote a enough time to monitoring social media?
  • How would you go about trying to sell company leadership on re-prioritizing its social media resources?